A new era has been ushered into Stratford High School.
Jonathan Murphy had a brief interim tag taken off and was named as the new Elks’ athletic director/ head football coach approved during a special board meeting by Stratford ISD on Monday morning.
“This is a dream come true in so many ways,” Murphy said. “To get to be in this community, and to be with the staff we have, and the young people we have here amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity.”
The move comes just two weeks after former head coach Matt Lovorn made the stunning announcement he was leaving after eight seasons at the helm to be the Canyon offensive coordinator. For Stratford superintendent, Dr. Paul Uttley, keeping the job in-house and appointing Murphy was an easy one.
“I think this was a no-brainer,” Uttley said. “We have good quality coaches in the fieldhouse. We have several with experience. Coach (Casey) Lantelme also applied and was tremendous in his interview. I had the easiest and toughest decision because we had two quality candidates. Jon Murphy is a home run. He has a true commitment to the program, and he has a great understanding of what it takes to be a Stratford Elk. He’s fantastic.”
This is Murphy’s first head coaching job. The 41-year-old is an Ardmore, Okla., native with previous coaching stints at White Deer and Panhandle before coming to Stratford. When Lovorn took over for the great Eddie Metcalf eight years ago, Murphy was Lovorn’s first hire as offensive line coach and has been a staple on Stratford’s staff ever since.”
“This is the right move for Stratford going forward,” said Lovorn, who was 89-22 in eight seasons as the Elks head coach winning a state championship in 2021. “On a personal note, I couldn’t be happier for my friend, Jon. He’s dreamed of this for a lot of years. For this to come to fruition, I’m just excited for him. I’m excited for the coaching staff, the program and the school district. He’s an excellent man.”
Don’t expect to see Stratford traditions that has made the program a small school blue blood in the Texas Panhandle change under Murphy’s watch. Sure, there may be a wrinkle or two thrown in under his style, but Murphy lives by the old motto, “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it.”
“As a leader you have to be yourself,” Murphy said. “There could be somethings I do that coach Lovorn, or coach Metcalf didn’t do, and that’s fine. But we won’t change is the principal, the culture or the way we play. We never need to change that. We’ll grow and develop to evolve but I’m just excited for this opportunity.”
Murphy has named wide receiver/ secondary coach, Casey Lantelme, as his offensive coordinator for the upcoming fall. Murphy is just the fourth head football coach in program history dating back to 1994, joining Brad Thiessen, Metcalf and Lovorn.